Birmingham has reinvented itself as a worthy weekend destination. The 19th Century industrial powerhouse has transformed into a dynamic hive of creativity, with independent galleries, street food festivals, live music and more Michelin stars than anywhere outside of London. And, with a £700million regeneration scheme in the works, Britain’s second city will only become more popular.
But what Birmingham arguably does best is shopping. The sprawling Bullring, one of the UK’s best-known and largest shopping centres, is home to over 160 stores alone. Add to that a dozen markets, over 200 silversmiths and jewellers housed in a Grade II-listed Jewellery Quarter, and hundreds of boutiques. For shoppers who prefer to champion boutique businesses, you can’t go far wrong in Birmingham. Here, we’ve rounded up ten of the best.
1. Swordfish Records
Swordfish opened its doors in 1979 as a hip hang-out for fellow New Romantics. Since then, it has gained a reputation as a spearhead for a vinyl revival. It is packed to bursting with new and second-hand vinyls, as well as specialist CDs too. Guitar music is the real focus here, but records span all genres, from Indie to Jazz. A Birmingham institution with an impressive history of clientele, The Kooks, Mark Ronson and Lenny Kravitz have all passed through its doors – and they certainly didn’t leave empty-handed either.
66 Dalton Street
2. Your Wedding Shop
The perfect wedding dress doesn’t need to break the bank – a point proven by Your Wedding Shop Boutique. With at least 900 dresses to choose from, many for budgets under £695, Your Wedding Shop Boutique caters for every taste, style and budget. The shop also offers a plus-size outlet, with beautiful budget dresses for plus-size shopping. A wide variety of veils and hair accessories are very reasonably priced too. The shop is open Thursday – Saturday, appointments recommended.
1839 Pershore Road
3. The Chocolate Quarter
Chocolate is taken seriously over at The Chocolate Quarter, an independent chocolate shop in the Jewellery Quarter. Mounds of truffles, chocolate bars, slabs and eggs spill over the counter, with flavours ranging from crunchy praline to Marc du Champagne. No need to feel too guilty about indulging either. Since there is no need for a long shelf life, nasty additives or sugars can be bypassed. If liquid chocolate is your sweet spot, head directly to the salted caramel hot chocolate spoon.
1A Spencer Street
4. Flowers at Moor Street
Whether you’re in the market for a last-minute Valentines gift or just want to put a smile on a friend’s face, Flowers at Moor Street has something for all your bouquet-buying needs. The pretty premises is located at Moor Street Station, in the old ticket office. The family-run business has been trading – with roaring success – since 2019. As well as popular stems like roses and lilies, the florist stocks a wide variety of seasonal flowers, terrarium and cacti. If you’re feeling creative, you can join forces with one of their flower specialists to design your own bouquet too.
Moor Street Station
5. Ideal Skating
Serving skating enthusiasts since 1991, Ideal Skateboarding is located in The Custard Factory, Birmingham’s burgeoning creative space. Staff here are friendly, helpful, with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of skating to happily guide you through the process of buying your skateboard. You’ll find a huge range of decks, trucks, bearings and wheels on sale, from brands like Antihero, Hockey and GX100. There’s an impressive array of accompanying paraphernalia in stock too, including books, bags and beanies.
The Custard Factory, 34 Gibb Street
6. Top Banana Original Vintage Clothing
For vintage threads, visitors should head straight to Top Banana Original Vintage Clothing. The brand specialises in vintage-wear from the U.S., with every piece selected because of the story and ethos of the brand. It offers a broad range of vintage clothing, shoes and accessories, but its eclectic range of converse and Vans is what sets it apart. Prices are affordable and visitors can be guaranteed to find something totally unique.
14 York Road
7. Miss Macaroon
Part patisserie, part social enterprise, Miss Macaroon was set up in 2011 by one woman with a mission – to bake a brighter future. 100% of all business profits are reinvested into helping unemployed young people gain the skills they need to change their lives. If that wasn’t incentive enough to eat up heartily, the macaroons here are other-worldly – chewy, light and airy. Flavours range from the conventional (pistachio, strawberry and chocolate) to the seasonal (spiced apple and salted peanut).
Pop-ups across Birmingham
8. Liquor Store
This friendly independent clothes boutique is located in The Grand Hotel on Colmore Row. Champions of expressing individuality through style, the shop aims to bring customers the best and most exclusive brands at affordable prices. Visitors will find a whole array of items, from belts and wooly hats to skin products, but the shop is best known for its denim. With over 50 different denim options, there’s a pair of jeans for every taste and budget. It certainly isn’t cheap, but it is good value for money.
No. 3 The Grand, 27 Colemore Road
Birmingham’s best-loved boutique gift shop Smithsonia has been trading in the city centre for more than 40 years. With an enormous and varied stock encompassing everything from crockery to stuffed toys, visitors are guaranteed to find an unusual gift for that person who has everything. Think ceramic dachshund face egg cups, vintage silver napkin rings and bespoke leather wash bags. The shop relocated to Piccadilly Arcade in the early 1980s and now features a fitting 1920s facade, replete with original period features.
5-9 Piccadilly Arcade
10. Sims Shoes
A treasure trove of weird and wonderful shoes, Sims Shoes is the only independent shoe shop in Birmingham. You can find it in the Great Western Arcade, the Grade II listed shopping arcade famous for its independent brands and boutiques. Sims has been in business since 1987, selling fashionable footwear from leading brands including Red or Dead, Fiorelli and Ideal Choice to men and women.
11-12 Great Western Arcade
By Allie d’Almo